A rider attached by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) to the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510), which proposes banning earmarks for the next three years, could have a devastating effect on educational programs like Reach Out and Read, Reading Is Fundamental, and Teach for America, which would lose their federal funding. The vote on the ban is scheduled to take place on the Monday after Thanksgiving.

“The passage of this amendment would be catastrophic for Reach Out and Read and 12 other high quality, evidence-based programs that benefit millions of children and families in our country,” says Reach Out and Read CEO Earl Martin Phalen. “The best way to protect America’s economic security for the future is to invest in early education, and vote against this shortsighted amendment.”

This year, for example, Reach Out and Read, which promotes early literacy and school readiness by giving new books to children and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud at regular pediatric checkups, was awarded $6 million in federal funding. The organization leveraged it to raise another $21 million in non-federal funding to serve 4 million children and families nationwide.

Reach Out and Read is working with the 12 other nonprofit education organizations that would be affected by the earmark ban—Center for Civic Education, Close Up foundation, Communities In Schools, cooperative Education Exchange Program, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, National History Day, National Writing project, New Leaders for New Schools, Project GRAD, Reading Is Fundamental, Teach for America, and VSA—to try to stop the legislation. For more information, go to the Reach Out and Read Web site: www.reachoutandread.org/supporters/advocate/takeaction.aspx.